ALS/Crisis Management

                                                          Active Listening Skills

Active listening is a communication technique used in counseling, training and conflict resolution, which requires the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker, by way of re-stating or paraphrasing what they have heard in their own words, to confirm what they have heard and moreover, to confirm the understanding of both parties.

When interacting, people often "wait to speak" rather than listening attentively. They might also be distracted. Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others, focusing attention on the "function" of communicating objectively as opposed to focusing on "forms", passive expression or subjectivity.

There are many opinions on what "active listening" is. A search of the term reveals interpretations of the "activity" as including "interpreting body language" or focusing on something other than or in addition to words. Successful communication is the establishment of common ground between two people—understanding. Agreeing to disagree is common ground. Common ground can be false, i.e., a person says they feel a certain way but they do not. Nevertheless it is common ground, once accepted as understood. Dialogue, understanding and progress can only arise from that common ground. And that common ground cannot be established without respect for the words as spoken by the speaker, for whatever reason.

Thus the essence of active listening is as simple as it is effective: paraphrasing the speakers words back to them as a question. There is little room for assumption or interpretation. It is functional, mechanical and leaves little doubt as to what is meant by what is said. "The process is successful if the person receiving the information gives feedback which shows understanding for meaning. Suspending one's own frame of reference, suspending judgment and avoiding other internal mental activities are important to fully attend to the speaker.

Primary Elements

There are three key elements of active listening: comprehending retaining responding.


Comprehension is "shared meaning between parties in a communication transaction". This is the first step in the listening process. The first challenge for the listener is accurately identifying speech sounds and understanding and synthesizing these sounds as words. We are constantly bombarded with auditory stimuli, so the listener has to select which of those stimuli are speech sounds and choose to pay attention to the appropriate sounds (attending). The second challenge is being able to discern breaks between discernible words, or speech segmentation. This becomes significantly more difficult with an unfamiliar language because the speech sounds blend together into a continuous jumble. Determining the context and meanings of each word is essential to comprehending a sentence.


This is the second step in the listening process. Memory is essential to the listening process because the information we retain when involved in the listening process is how we create meaning from words. We depend on our memory to fill in the blanks when we're listening. Because everyone has different memories, the speaker and the listener may attach different meanings to the same statement. However, our memories are fallible and we can't remember everything that we've ever listened to. There are many reasons why we forget some information that we've received. The first is cramming. When you cram there is a lot of information entered into your short term memory. Shortly after cramming, when you don't need the information anymore, it is purged from your brain before it can be transferred into your long term memory. The second reason is that you aren't paying attention when you receive the information. Alternatively, when you receive the information you may not attach importance to it, so it loses its meaning. A fourth reason is at the time the information was received you lacked motivation to listen carefully to better remember it. Using information immediately after receiving it enhances information retention and lessens the forgetting curve (the rate at which we no longer retain information in our memory). Retention is lessened when we engage in mindless listening, where little effort is made to listen to a speaker's message. Mindful listening is active listening.


Listening is an interaction between speaker and listener. It adds action to a normally passive process. The speaker looks for verbal and nonverbal responses from the listener to determine if the message is being listened to. Usually the response is nonverbal because if the response is verbal the speaker/listener roles are reversed so the listener becomes the speaker and is no longer listening. Based on the response the speaker chooses to either adjust or continue with his/her communication style.


Active listening involves the listener observing the speaker's behavior and body language. Having the ability to interpret a person's body language lets the listener develop a more accurate understanding of the speaker's message. When the listener does not respond to the speaker's nonverbal language, (s)he engages in a content-only response which ignores the emotions that guide the message. Having heard, the listener may then paraphrase the speaker's words. It is important to note that the listener is not necessarily agreeing with the speaker—simply stating what was said. In emotionally charged communications, the listener may listen for feelings. Thus, rather than merely repeating what the speaker has said, the active listener will describe the underlying emotion ("You seem to feel angry," or "You seem to feel frustrated, is that because ... ?").

Individuals in conflict often contradict each other. This has the effect of denying the validity of the other person's position. Ambushing occurs when one listens to someone else's argument for its weaknesses and ignore its strengths. The purpose is to attack the speaker’s position and support their own. This may include a distortion of the speaker’s argument to gain a competitive advantage. Either party may react defensively, and they may lash out or withdraw. On the other hand, if one finds that the other party understands, an atmosphere of cooperation can be created. This increases the possibility of collaborating and resolving the conflict. 


Active listening is used in a wide variety of situations, including public interest advocacy, community organizing, tutoring, medical workers talking to patients, HIV counseling, helping suicidal persons, management, counseling and journalistic settings. In groups it may aid in reaching consensus. It may also be used in casual conversation or small talk to build understanding, though this can be interpreted as condescending.

A listener can use several degrees of active listening, each resulting in a different quality of communication. The active listening chart below shows the three main degrees of listening: repeating, paraphrasing and reflecting.

The proper use of active listening results in getting people to open up, avoiding misunderstandings, resolving conflict, and building trust. In a medical context, benefits may include increased patient satisfaction, improved cross-cultural communication, improved outcomes, or decreased litigation. Active listening can be lifted by the active listening observation scale.

Barriers to active listening

All elements of communication, including listening, may be affected by barriers that can impede the flow of conversation. Such barriers include distractions, trigger words, vocabulary, and limited attention span.

Listening barriers may be psychological (e.g. emotions) or physical (e.g. noise and visual distraction). Cultural differences including speakers' accents, vocabulary, and misunderstandings due to cultural assumptions often obstruct the listening process.

Frequently, the listener's personal interpretations, attitudes, biases, and prejudices lead to ineffective communication.

Shift response

The first of these is the shift response which is the general tendency in a conversation to affix the attention to you. There is competition between individuals for attention and a focus on self by shifting the topic; it is a me-oriented technique.  The listener shifts from a passive position, receiver, to an active role, sender. This is a type of conversational narcissism; the tendency of listeners to turn the topic of conversations to themselves without showing sustained interest in others listening. With conversational narcissism there is a tendency to overuse the shift response and under use the support response. A support response is the opposite of a shift response; it is an attention giving method and a cooperative effort to focus the conversational attention on the other person. Instead of being me-oriented like shift response, it is we-oriented. It is the response most likely to be used by a competent communicator.


Overcoming listening barriers

To use the active listening technique to improve interpersonal communication, one puts personal emotions aside during the conversation, asks questions and paraphrases back to the speaker to clarify understanding, and one also tries to overcome all types of environment distractions. Judging or arguing prematurely is a result of holding onto a strict personal opinion. This hinders the ability to be able to listen closely to what is being said. Furthermore, the listener considers the speaker's background, both cultural and personal, to benefit as much as possible from the communication process. Eye contact and appropriate body languages are seen as important components to active listening. Effective listening involves focusing on what the speaker is saying; at times the listener might come across certain key words which may help them understand the speaker. The stress and intonation may also keep them active and away from distractions. Taking notes on the message can aid in retention.

Misconceptions about listening

There are several misconceptions about listening. The first of these is listening and hearing are the same thing. Hearing is the physiological process of registering sound waves as they hit the eardrum. We have no control over what we hear. The sounds we hear have no meaning until we give them their meaning in context. Listening on the other hand is an active process that constructs meaning from both verbal and nonverbal messages.

**The above was sourced from Wikipedia and is formally referenced with words cited in the following reference section**

For more information or to see complete article and references used please go HERE.

References (Words Cited)

1. In the Company of Others: An Introduction to Communication. New York: Oxford University Press. 2010. pp. 157–166. ISBN 0-19-533630-5. OCLC 276930486.

2.  Wurman, R. (1989). Information anxiety. New York: Doubleday.

3. Bahrick HP (March 1984). "Semantic memory content in permastore: fifty years of memory for Spanish learned in school". J Exp Psychol Gen 113 (1): 1–29. PMID 6242406.

4. Atwater, Eastwood (1981). I Hear You. Prentice-Hall. p. 83. ISBN 0-13-450684-7.

5. Segal, Morley (1997). Points of influence: a guide to using personality theory at work. Jossey-Bass. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-7879-0260-5.

6. Gordon, Thomas (1977). Leader Effectiveness Training. New York: Wyden books. p. 57. ISBN 0-399-12888-3.

7. Maudsley G (March 1999). "Roles and responsibilities of the problem based learning tutor in the undergraduate medical curriculum". BMJ 318 (7184): 657–61. PMC 1115096. PMID 10066213.

8. Lang F, Floyd MR, Beine KL (2000). "Clues to patients' explanations and concerns about their illnesses. A call for active listening". Arch Fam Med 9 (3): 222–7. doi:10.1001/archfami.9.3.222. PMID 10728107.


9. Baxter P, Campbell T. (August 7–12, 1994). "HIV counselling skills used by health care workers in Zambia (abstract no. PD0743)". Int Conf AIDS 10 (390).


10. Laflamme G (1996). "[Helping suicidal persons by active listening]". Infirm Que (in French) 3 (4): 35. PMID 9147668.

11. Mineyama S, Tsutsumi A, Takao S, Nishiuchi K, Kawakami N (2007). "Supervisors' attitudes and skills for active listening with regard to working conditions and psychological stress reactions among subordinate workers". J Occup Health 49 (2): 81–7. doi:10.1539/joh.49.81. PMID 17429164.

12. "Active Listening". Inspiration. White Dove Books. Retrieved 19 April 2012.

13. Davidhizar R (2004). "Listening—a nursing strategy to transcend culture". J Pract Nurs 54 (2): 22–4; quiz 26–7. PMID 15460343.

14. Robertson K (2005). "Active listening: more than just paying attention". Aust Fam Physician 34 (12): 1053–5. PMID 16333490.

15. Fassaert T, van Dulmen S, Schellevis F, Bensing J (2007). "Active listening in medical consultations: development of the Active Listening Observation Scale (ALOS-global)". Patient Educ Couns 68 (3): 258–64. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2007.06.011. PMID 17689042.

16. Reed, Warren H. (1985). Positive listening: learning to hear what people are really saying. New York: F. Watts. ISBN 0-531-09583-5.

17. Derber, C. (1979). The pursuit of attention: Power and individualism in everyday life. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 5.

18. Vangelisti, A.; Knapp, M.; Daly, J. (1990). "Conversational narcissism". Communication Monographs (57): 251–274.

19. Lama, Dalai. "Top 3 Barriers to Effective Listening". People Communicating. Retrieved 19 April 2012.

20. François Pachet The Future of Content is in Ourselves. The Future of Content is in Ourselves. In M. Tokoro, editor, Open System Science, pages 133-158, IOS Press. 2010.

21. François Pachet Active Listening: What is in the Air?.In Miranda, E., editor, Musica y Nuevas Tecnologias: Perspectivas para el Siglo XXI, L'Angelot. 1999.

22. François Pachet Constraints for Multimedia Applications. Proceedings of PACLP 1999, London, March 1999. The Practical Application Company.



Crisis Intervention


Crisis Intervention is emergency psychological care aimed at assisting individuals in a crisis situation to restore equilibrium to their biopsychosocial functioning and to minimize the potential for psychological trauma. Crisis can be defined as one’s perception or experiencing of an event or situation as an intolerable difficulty that exceeds the person’s current resources and coping mechanisms.

The priority of crisis intervention and counseling is to increase stabilization. Crisis interventions occur at the spur of the moment and in a variety of settings, as trauma can arise instantaneously. Crises are temporary, usually with short span, no longer than a month, although the effects may become long-lasting.

Crisis Intervention is the emergency and temporary care given an individual who, because of unusual stress in his or her life that renders them unable to function as they normally would, in order to interrupt the downward spiral of maladaptive behavior and return the individual to their usual level of pre-crisis functioning.

Types of crisis

Crises can occur on a personal or societal level. Personal Trauma is defined as an individual’s experience of a situation or event in which he/she perceives to have exhausted his/her coping skill, self-esteem, social support, and power. These can be situations where a person is making suicidal threats, experiencing threat, witnessing homicide or suicide, or experiencing personal loss.

Societal or mass trauma can occur in a number of settings and typically affect a large group or society. These are instances such as school shootings, terrorist attacks, and natural disaster.


Typical responses to crisis

Counselors are encouraged to be aware of the typical responses of those who have experienced a crisis or currently struggling with the trauma. On the cognitive level they may blame themselves or others for the trauma. Often the person appears disoriented, becomes hypersensitive or confused, has poor concentration, uncertainty, and poor troubleshooting. Physical responses to trauma include: increased heart rate, tremors, dizziness, weakness, chills, headaches, vomiting, shock, fainting, sweating, and fatigue. Some emotional responses the person may experiences consist of apathy, depression, irritability, anxiety, panic, helplessness, hopelessness, anger, fear, guilt, and denial. When assessing behavior some typical responses to crisis are difficulty eating and/or sleeping, conflicts with others, withdrawal from social situations, and lack of interest in social activities.


Universal principles of crisis intervention

While dealing with crisis, both personal and societal, there are five basic principles outlined for intervention. Victims are initially at high risk for maladaptive coping or immobilization. Intervening as quickly as possible is imperative. Resource mobilization should be immediately enacted in order to provide victims with the tools they need to return to some sort of order and normalcy, in addition to enable eventual independent functioning. The next step is to facilitate understanding of the event by processing the situation or trauma. This is done in order to help the victim gain a better understanding of what has occurred and allowing him or her to express feeling about the experience. Additionally, the counselor should assist the victim(s) in problem solving within the context of their situation and feelings. This is necessary for developing self-efficacy and self-reliance. Helping the victim get back to being able to function independently by actively facilitating problem solving, assisting in developing appropriate strategies for addressing those concerns, and in helping putting those strategies into action. This is done in hopes of assisting the victim to become self-reliant.

**The above was sourced from Wikipedia and is formally referenced with words cited in the following reference section**

 For more information or to see complete article and references used please go HERE.

  References (Words Cited)

1. Jackson-Cherry, L.R., & Erford, B.T. (2010). Crisis intervention and prevention. NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

2. Aguilera, D.C. (1998). Crisis Intervention. Theory and Methodology. Mosby, St Louis.

3. Forde, S., & Devaney, C. (2006). Postilion: a community-based family support initiative and model of responding to tragic events, including suicide. Child Care in Practice, 12(1), 53-61.

4. Greenstone and Leviton, 1993, 2002, 2011

5. Crisis Unknown. (2010). Crisis. Wikipedia. Retrieved (2010, March 20)

6. Landau, J., Mittal, M., & Wieling, E. (2008). Linking human systems: strengthening individuals, families, and communities in the wake of mass trauma. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 34(2), 193-209

7. Flannery, R.B., & Everly, G.S. (2000). Crisis intervention: a review. Internal Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 2(2), 119-125.

8. Roberts, A. (2006). Assessment, crisis intervention, and trauma treatment: the integrative act intervention model. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 2(1), 1-22.

9.Jump up ^ Waters, J.A. (2002). Moving forward from September 11: a stress/crisis/trauma response model. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 2, 55-74.

10. Lilienfeld, S.O. (2007). Psychological treatments that cause harm. perspectives on psychological science, 2(1), 53-71.

11. Regehr, C. (2001). Crisis debriefing groups for emergency responders: reviewing the evidence. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 1, 87-100.

Greenstone, J.L. & Leviton, Sharon. (1993, 2002,2011). Elements of crisis intervention: Crises and how to respond to them, Third Edition. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, Thomson Learning.

Greenstone, J.L. (2005). The elements of police hostage and crisis negotiations: Critical incidents and how to respond to them. Binghamton, New York: The Haworth Press, Inc.

Greenstone, J.L.(2008). The Elements of disaster Psychology: Managing psychosocial trauma – An integrated approach to force protection and acute care. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas, Publishers.

Greenstone, J.L. & Leviton, Sharon (1981). Hotline: Crisis intervention directory. New York: Facts on File.

Greenstone, J.L. & Leviton, Sharon (1982). Crisis intervention: Handbook for interveners. Dubuque: Kendall-Hunt.

Greenstone, J.L.& Leviton, Sharon. (1983). Crisis intervention. In Raymond Corsini (ED) Encyclopedia of Psychology. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Crisis management


Crisis management is the process by which an organization deals with a major event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders, or the general public. The study of crisis management originated with the large scale industrial and environmental disasters in the 1980s.

In contrast to risk management, which involves assessing potential threats and finding the best ways to avoid those threats, crisis management involves dealing with threats before, during, and after they have occurred. It is a discipline within the broader context of management consisting of skills and techniques required to identify, assess, understand, and cope with a serious situation, especially from the moment it first occurs to the point that recovery procedures start.


Crisis management consists of different aspects including;

Methods used to respond to both the reality and perception of crises.

Establishing metrics to define what scenarios constitute a crisis and should consequently trigger the necessary response mechanisms.

Communication that occurs within the response phase of emergency-management scenarios.

Crisis-management methods of a business or an organization are called a crisis-management plan.

Crisis management is occasionally referred to as incident management, although several industry specialists argue that the term "crisis management" is more accurate.

A crisis mindset requires the ability to think of the worst-case scenario while simultaneously suggesting numerous solutions. Trial and error is an accepted discipline, as the first line of defense might not work. It is necessary to maintain a list of contingency plans and to be always on alert. Organizations and individuals should always be prepared with a rapid response plan to emergencies which would require analysis, drills and exercises.

The credibility and reputation of organizations is heavily influenced by the perception of their responses during crisis situations. The organization and communication involved in responding to a crisis in a timely fashion makes for a challenge in businesses. There must be open and consistent communication throughout the hierarchy to contribute to a successful crisis-communication process.

The related terms emergency management and business-continuity management focus respectively on the prompt but short lived "first aid" type of response (e.g. putting the fire out) and the longer-term recovery and restoration phases (e.g. moving operations to another site). Crisis is also a facet of risk management, although it is probably untrue to say that crisis management represents a failure of risk management, since it will never be possible to totally mitigate the chances of catastrophes' occurring.



Models and theories associated with crisis management

Crisis Management Model

Successfully defusing a crisis requires an understanding of how to handle a crisis – before they occur.

There are 3 phases in any Crisis Management as shown below

1.The diagnosis of the impending trouble or the danger signals.

2.Choosing appropriate Turnaround Strategy.

3.Implementation of the change process and its monitoring.

Crisis Management Planning

No corporation looks forward to facing a situation that causes a significant disruption to their business, especially one that stimulates extensive media coverage. Public scrutiny can result in a negative financial, political, legal and government impact. Crisis management planning deals with providing the best response to a crisis.

Contingency planning

Preparing contingency plans in advance, as part of a crisis-management plan, is the first step to ensuring an organization is appropriately prepared for a crisis. Crisis-management teams can rehearse a crisis plan by developing a simulated scenario to use as a drill. The plan should clearly stipulate that the only people to speak publicly about the crisis are the designated persons, such as the company spokesperson or crisis team members. The first hours after a crisis breaks are the most crucial, so working with speed and efficiency is important, and the plan should indicate how quickly each function should be performed. When preparing to offer a statement externally as well as internally, information should be accurate. Providing incorrect or manipulated information has a tendency to backfire and will greatly exacerbate the situation. The contingency plan should contain information and guidance that will help decision makers to consider not only the short-term consequences, but the long-term effects of every decision.

Crisis leadership

1.Building an environment of trust

2.Reforming the organization’s mindset

3.Identifying obvious and obscure vulnerabilities of the organization

4.Making wise and rapid decisions as well as taking courageous action

5.Learning from crisis to effect change.

Crisis leadership research concludes that leadership action in crisis reflects the competency of an organization, because the test of crisis demonstrates how well the institution’s leadership structure serves the organization’s goals and withstands crisis.  Developing effective human resources is vital when building organizational capabilities through crisis management executive leadership.


Social media and crisis management


Social media has accelerated the speed that information about a crisis can spread. The viral affect of social networks such as Twitter means that stakeholders can break news faster than traditional media - making managing a crisis harder.[18] This can be mitigated by having the right training and policy in place as well as the right social media monitoring tools to detect signs of a crisis breaking.[19] Social media also gives crisis management teams access to real-time information about how a crisis is impacting stakeholder sentiment and the issues that are of most concern to them.


**The above was sourced from Wikipedia and is formally referenced with words cited in the following reference section**

 For more information or to see complete article and references used please go HERE.

  References (Words Cited)


1. Shrivastava, P. Mitroff, I.I., Miller, D. and A. Miglani, " Understanding industrial crises".Journal of Management Studies, 1988, 25, 4, 285-304.

2. ASIS International, "Organizational Resilience: Security, Preparedness, and Continuity Management Systems-Requirements with Guidance for Use, ASIS SPC.1-2009, American National Standard", 2009

3. Seeger, M. W.; Sellnow, T. L., & Ulmer, R. R. (1998). "Communication, organization and crisis". Communication Yearbook 21: 231–275.

4. Venette, S. J. (2003). Risk communication in a High Reliability Organization: APHIS PPQ's inclusion of risk in decision making. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Proquest Information and Learning.

5. "Incident or crisis? Why the debate?".

6. Alan B. Bernstein and Cindy Rakowitz (2012). Emergency Public Relations: Crisis Management In a 3.0 World. p. 5. ISBN 978-1469159546

7. Coombs, W. T. (1999). Ongoing crisis communication: Planning, managing, and responding. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

8. Lerbinger, O. (1997). The crisis manager: Facing risk and responsibility. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

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10. James, E. (Spring 2007). "Leadership as (Un)usual: How to Display Competence InTimes of Crisis". Leadership Preview. Retrieved 2010-06-22.

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17. James, Erika (Sept. – Oct. 2000, Vol. 11, No. 5). "Race-Related Differences in Promotions and Support: Underlying Effects of Human and Social Capital". Organizational Science 11 (5): 493. doi:10.1287/orsc.11.5.493.15202. Retrieved 2010-06-22. Unknown parameter |middle= ignored (help)


19. Lewis, Adam. "How to manage a social media crisis".

20. Davis, Lanny (May 1999) “Truth to Tell: Tell it Early, Tell it All, Tell it Yourself” Notes from My White House Education. New York: Free Press

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ALS/Crisis Intervention & Management Test

Prospective CFSI Coordinators must achieve a passing grade on the test to receive certification by the Center for Search & Investigations.

Please click here to take the test

 Upon successful completion of the CFSI ALS/Crisis Intervention & Management Test, prospective State Coordinators will be certified by The Center for Search & Investigations and receive the below
Certificate of Completion!


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